April 16, 2020
John Graves embodies a passion for performance that can be attributed to family tradition. The Philadelphia native grew up watching his mother, Marilyn Graves, and grandmother Evelyn Graves perform on stage—and he has quite the legacy to uphold.
The 5500 block of Chester Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia was renamed Dr. Evelyn Graves Way to honor the impact that Evelyn Graves Drama Production had on the community. It all started with a few neighborhood kids with an interest in the arts. Then, came a professional studio.
The youngest generation of Graves wrote his first production at the age of 19. Eager to improve, John Graves took another shot at it—and he continued to do so. By 2020, he brought over 30 original productions to life and reached over 10,000 families by founding John Graves Productions.
After all the hard work he put into it, opportunities opened up for John Graves elsewhere, in a place that many performers dream of: Los Angeles. Why didn’t he go? He began to embody Philadelphia’s lesser known name, the City of Brotherly Love. No family should be left behind. “[There were] people that had invested in me with their art and people that I invested in.”
John Graves calls Philadelphia home and has endless love for it. “Philadelphia’s art scene holds enthusiasts and visionaries,” says Graves. “We all have the same goals: to bring positivity to the community, to cultivate the community, and to survive.”
Seeing individuals with unique talents and recognizing a need for them to share it, Graves created a platform for the local community of artists in Philadelphia—from beginners to experts, from writers to dancers.
Don’t think for a second that the stage is where John Graves Productions stops. If you’ve heard of Here’s2CoolStuff, where artists can utilize space to sell their own line, Graves is behind that too—taking him from a producer to an entrepreneur.
OnUp features John Graves as an inspiring innovator based in the Greater Philadelphia Area in Episode 6 of a 6-part series titled, OnUp Innovators. Graves shares his love for Philadelphia and the importance of mentors in his life. Watch the full interview here.
Despite the challenges COVID-19 has placed on Philadelphia’s art community, performers at John Graves Productions are continuing to communicate while social distancing through video call dance rehearsals and more.
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The Uncommon Individual Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit leader in mentor-based learning, founded in 1986 by Dr. Richard E. Caruso. A successful entrepreneur, Caruso attributes his entrepreneurial success to the mentors he encountered throughout his life. UIF is his way of ‘mentoring it forward,’ to help individuals and organizations succeed through curated connections to mentors in Business, Education, Media, and Technology. For more information about UIF, visit: https://www.uif.org/. UIF recently launched a new media studio to help innovators navigate the media landscape. Visit: https://uifrecstudio.org/